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Alumni Profile: Chaplain Douglas G. Sullivan ’82

     As he headed north on interstate 81 in the summer of 1977, a young Doug Sullivan seemed to be going through a rough patch in life.  His parents were on a mission to find the right military boarding school for him, and they traveled throughout the state of Virginia to find one.  He was a bit of a wayward youth approaching his formidable years and needed strong guidance.  That was when his family arrived in Front Royal, Virginia, on a Sunday afternoon to pay a visit to Randolph-Macon Academy.  The president of the academy at the time, Colonel Arvin Williams, happened to be on campus that day and gave the Sullivan family a private tour of the R-MA campus.  One month later Doug began to attend the school he would call home for the next five years.

It was in this close-knit community where Doug would learn how to become a leader.  He became the vice-president of his sophomore class, the treasurer of his junior class, a member of the National Honor Society, and Secretary of the Honor Council.  He was named co-captain of the wrestling team his junior year, captain of the cross country team, Squadron commander, drum major of the band his senior year, and was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” along with “Most Military.”  Both superlatives, after years of hard work, would come to ample fruition.  It was also at R-MA where Sullivan would forge long-lasting relationships including one with his future wife, Debbie.  She was not a cadet at the Academy, but attended church downtown with Sullivan and ran cross country for Warren County High School.  

Cadet Sullivan, after five years on the hill, graduated from R-MA in 1982 as the valedictorian.  He was invited to attend the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but stayed home with his family in Charlottesville, Virginia, after his father had a massive heart attack.  Sullivan attended the University of Virginia and joined their ROTC program, but his father passed away that next year.  Eventually, on June 6, 1983, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and became an Airman First Class (E3).  On account of his five years of Junior ROTC at R-MA, Airman First Class Sullivan was able to bypass basic training and the ranks of Airman Basic (E1) and Airman (E2).
 
For the next ten years he would be stationed at Eglin Air Force Base and made the most of his time there.  He rose through the NCO ranks to TSgt with celerity earning several prestigious awards in 1991 that aided his ascension.  He was named the Air Force Systems Command Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, the United States Air Force Airman Leadership School Instructor of the Year, and was nominated for the United States Air Force Twelve Outstanding Airmen of the Year.  As a result, he became a commissioned officer on July 28, 1993.
 
After he received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant (O1E), along with the Jefferson Academic Award and Webster Briefing Award at Officer Training School, he was stationed at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.  He served as the Missile Combat Crew Commander and Instructor for four years and rose to the rank of Captain (O3E).  After his promotion to Captain on July 28, 1997, he became the Chief of Protocol and Wing Executive Officer at Minot Air Force Base where he facilitated all protocol functions for wing and base agencies.
 
After 15 years of moving through the military ranks, from Airman First Class to Captain, Captain Sullivan became a United States Air Force Chaplain on October 1, 1998.  He served as an active duty Chaplain for eight years and became a Senior Protestant/Deputy Wing Chaplain.  During this time he built a new Protestant program at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado, and oversaw the $7 million construction of Buckley Chapel.  He was also a Protestant Chaplain at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas from 1999-2002 where, coincidentally, current R-MA president General David Wesley and former R-MA Commandant Colonel Gary Sadler were stationed.
 
On December 1, 2006, Chaplain Sullivan retired from the United States Air Force.  He lives on a small farm in Waxahachie, Texas, with his wife Debbie, who is an elementary school teacher. They stay busy raising horses, llamas, goats, chickens, and other farm animals.  His two children, Daniel and Catherine, live in Waxahachie, Texas, as well.  Daniel is a Dallas Police Officer, and Catherine teaches Kindergarten at Felty Elementary School.  Doug and Debbie Sullivan have been blessed with three grandchildren, two by Daniel and his wife Brandi and one by Catherine and her husband Tyler.
 
Chaplain Sullivan, now Doctor Sullivan after earning his Doctor of ministry from Evangel University, continues to serve today as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Texas Civil Defense in Red Oak, Texas, as the Command Staff Chaplain.  He is also an adjunct professor of philosophy/religion at Navarro College in Waxahachie, Texas.  Dr. Sullivan enjoys restoring antique cars in his free time and provides spiritual guidance as a Hospice Chaplain for those who are terminal, helping them find peace in their last stage of life.  The former R-MA cadet has made a great name for himself as a spiritual advisor and leader.  But as the man said himself, “I would not be the person I am today if it were not for Randolph-Macon Academy.”

 

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